Dying Like Flies

Hello, and welcome to Revolutions.

After arresting and deporting Toussaint Louverture from Saint Domingue in June 1802, the young French General Charles Leclerc was kind of surprised to discover the expulsion of General Toussaint did not immediately spark a mass uprising. The cultivators in the fields had long ago grown disenchanted with Governor for life Toussaint and his senior officers more or less engaged in a conspiracy to sit on their hands and do nothing while their old leader and patron was shipped off. But this was about the only piece of good news Leclerc could point to for the rest of his short life. Because from here on out, his attempt to reassert French control over Saint Domingue was going to be a running disaster. Some of these disasters would be of his own making, some would be beyond his control, but they would all combine to make the Leclerc Expedition one of the all time great debacles in French history. 

But obviously, Leclerc did not know how bad it was going to get and he had some hope that the worst was in fact behind him. The 75 odd day campaign he had waged between mid-February 1802 and the end of April had been hard and bloody, costing him somewhere between 6000 and 9000 men. But the fighting was now over and it was time to settle into peaceful administration. And to help him run the colony, Leclerc had with him two senior partners. Possibly reflecting the three man style consulate that governed France, Bonaparte had envisioned a similar three man system for Saint Domingue. Leclerc would, of course, be the captain general in charge of all military matters, but he would be joined by an administrative prefect who would be in charge of the civilian government and a grand judge who would run the legal system. I won’t trouble you with their names because they’re not going to last long once the yellow fever sets in. 

The first problem these guys faced was the problem: how to balance the rights asserted by the free black population with the need to keep them all doing plantation work. Now, Leclerc started out displaying some generous leniency, and he was, in fact, taken aback by how draconian Toussaint’s final labor code was. And he said, “It is so strict that I would never dared to propose one like this, given the current situation.” So, after the ceasefire in May, Leclerc promulgated a new code. And while it was modeled on Toussaint, it was not as harsh, and in particular, sought to curb the abuse of cultivators by the soldiers. But the big question on everybody’s mind was, are the French going to reimpose slavery? Now, as we’ll see in a moment, it’s clear that reimposing slavery was Bonaparte’s preference for the colony. But he also seems to have recognized that trying to re-enslave the blacks right away would backfire. Not only is there no evidence that Leclerc departed France with orders to reimpose slavery, but Leclerc himself was an idealistic young man who was on record supporting emancipation. 

But that said, getting the blacks to work was imperative, because, as it turned out, the colony was in much worse shape than Bonaparte or Leclerc had expected. As we discussed two episodes back, the First Consul recognized that the expedition would not be able to feed itself, but he did not realize that it would also not be able to pay for itself. So Bonaparte had sent Leclerc off with almost no hard cash, the general theory being that when Leclerc got to the colony, he would be able to use the mountains of coffee and sugar to get cash that would help him buy more supplies and pay his men. But despite Toussaint Louverture’s best efforts, the Saint Domingue economy had not come close to recovering from ten years of revolution. And on top of that, the two most recent conflicts, the War of Knives and then Leclerc’s own campaigns, represented a major step backward. Cities across the colony, including Le Cap itself, were now burned out husks. Plantations everywhere had been destroyed by advancing and retreating armies over the past two years. Put bluntly, Saint Domingue was not producing what Leclerc needed it to produce to pay for all the other stuff that he needed. 

This lack of hard cash was then compounded by his bad relationship with the United States, from whom he needed to buy supplies. Forcing merchants to take French debt notes as payment was considered little better than theft by the Americans, who then went home and complained. This stirred up a little media firestorm in cities in New England, in the mid Atlantic, and American public opinion turned sharply against the French. 

But it wasn’t just public opinion that Leclerc had to contend with, nor were his own mistakes the sole cause of his problems. The one really big problem was that ever since President Jefferson’s first conversation with the French envoy in the summer of 1801. When he said, “Yeah, we’ll supply you and starve out General Toussaint”, very troubling news had come in from the American ambassador in London. The French and Spanish have signed a secret treaty to retrocede the Louisiana territory. So whatever that expedition in Saint Domingue is up to, it’s part of a much bigger plan than simply reclaiming some little sugar island. The Louisiana territory and access to the Mississippi River were already a huge deal for the American government. The cotton explosion in the south was just getting underway, pushing American planters west. The Spanish controlling access to the Mississippi River was bad enough. The French Republic under Napoleon Bonaparte controlling it? That was something else completely. 

So instead of receiving support from the United States as they expected, General Leclerc’s agents ran into carefully worded proclamations of neutrality. Leclerc dispatched an agent to Philadelphia to float a bond and try to raise some hard cash, and this agent found nothing but hostile refusals to invest. Possibly this was because word had gone round that it wasn’t necessarily in America’s best interest to be supporting this expedition. Failing to raise money in the private sector, these agents then turned to the Jefferson Administration and asked point blank for a loan, to which Secretary of State James Madison said no. Madison wouldn’t even commit to stopping American merchants from trading with any rebels in Saint Domingue, saying only that the merchants wouldn’t be protected by the American Navy. Privately, both Jefferson and Madison were now happy to let the Leclerc Expedition turn into a Caribbean quagmire to forestall whatever other dreams for the Western Hemisphere First Consul Bonaparte may be harboring. 

But money and economics and even international politics were about to become the least of General Leclerc’s worries, because in April 1802, just as the initial French campaigns were winding down, the mosquitoes started to swarm, and the worst yellow fever epidemic on record hit Saint Domingue. Now, disease was expected and had been allegedly accounted for, but the yellow fever epidemic of 1802 came on so fast and was so destructive that it would wreck everything Bonaparte and Leclerc had planned. 

There were two big reasons the epidemic got out of hand so quickly. First, and most obvious, between the soldiers and sailors and their various attendants and families, somewhere just shy of 40,000 people had arrived in the colony from Europe, every one of them susceptible to contracting the disease. Second, though, is that with so much of the urban and municipal infrastructure of the colony devastated, what meager medical accommodations the colony had were totally inadequate. Sanitation was nonexistent. There was no treatment. Hospitals were just places you went to die. And, boy, how did they start to die. 

On May 8, 1802, that is, the day after the peace was worked out with Toussaint and the other Creole generals, Leclerc wrote back to Bonaparte, reporting on the situation. Of the 20,000 soldiers he had come over with, he already was down to just 12,000. Now, most of those were casualties of the recent campaigns, but yellow fever was really starting to take its toll. Leclerc estimated that 200 to 250 men were contracting the disease every day with no end in sight. Hoping that he had accomplished enough of his mission to be relieved, Leclerc then asked to be allowed to return home, no doubt praying that he would be replaced before the yellow fever got to him too. 

Those who contracted the disease followed a predictable clockwork pattern. They would get sick, they would get worse, and then they would die. And any new arrivals in Saint Domingue were now walking into a cloud of death and disease. Through the summer of 1802, men would arrive, step foot on shore and be dead a week later. Both naval and merchant ships would arrive in Le Cap or Port-au-Prince or wherever, and immediately everybody on board would just die. A ship from Bordeaux saw 40 of 48 passengers die within days of arriving. Every single person on a Swedish merchant ship died, except for one cabin boy. The empty ship was then put up for auction. The navy fared no better. And one of the criticisms of Leclerc is that he just let the ships sit anchored in the harbor where their crews died along with everyone else, instead of sending them out to sail around until the plague had gone dormant for the winter. By the end of summer, ships of the line that had crew complements of 400 were now being manned by skeleton crews of just 150, with many of those local coloreds and blacks pressed into service. 

And of course, disease knows no rank or privilege. In short order, the grand judge and the administrative prefect and their entire families were dead. And the senior military staff of the expedition was utterly devastated. In total, 27 high ranking French generals died either in combat or of yellow fever during the Leclerc Expedition, which apparently makes it the single deadliest campaign for French generals for the entire run of the Napoleonic Wars. The officers who had once eagerly signed up for the campaign were now begging to go home. And there was no single assignment more coveted than to be a courier put in charge of Leclerc’s dispatches back to Bonaparte. Getting out of the colony was now every man’s top priority. And just to jump ahead a little bit, by the end of the year, of the 40,000 or so who arrived in February, somewhere on the order of 20,000 to 25,000, would be dead by the end of the year. 

But even with the disease running rampant, Leclerc wanted to keep pushing forward with his plans. And his next step was disarming the population of Saint Domingue. Between the 30,000 guns Sonthonax and the Third Commission had come over with, the munitions left behind by the British when they withdrew and then the additional 30,000 guns Toussaint had bought from the Americans between 1800-1801, it’s estimated there were something like 100,000 guns floating around out in the colony. So once it became clear that the deportation of Toussaint wasn’t going to spark a mass revolt, Leclerc ordered his officers to begin the process of disarmament. And taking the lead in this process would be none other than General Dessalines, who turned his fierce attention on any cultivator who thought they could defy the order to hand over their weapons. 

Dessalines was a black supremacist. Yes, he was. But as he shone in his willingness to crush cultivators under his heel, racial solidarity was not an end unto itself. He was so ruthless in his methods that Leclerc soon nicknamed him ‘The Butcher of the Blacks’ and had very little reason to doubt Dessalines’s loyalty to the French. 

Running parallel to disarmament was Leclerc’s plan to reorganize the military forces under his command. On one side, he had the soldiers who had come over with him from France, and on the other, he had all these black and colored colonial units. Leclerc wanted to integrate these two forces, combining colonial and European units, into single demi-brigades. Now, the standard method of military integration, though, was a lot like any merger between two companies, where the employees of one of the two companies are clearly being favored. As units were combined, entire black companies were simply slated to be disbanded. Drop off your weapons and go home. Now, since these men had a lot riding on their status as soldiers rather than cultivators, they were not happy about this one bit. So many went home, but they did not drop off their guns. Black and colored officers, meanwhile, might be retained, but with far less authority. Generals and colonels who had grown accustomed to autonomy now answered directly to white officers who hung right over their shoulders. Dessalines, for example, was kept in a state of constant supervision. Lower level officers, captains, and lieutenants found themselves little better than common soldiers now, and they, too, might simply find themselves unceremoniously dismissed from service one day. So anger and resentment was not confined to the men dismissed. It festered in the ranks of those who remained, both because of the indignities they now labored under and the knowledge that their unit might be the next to be disbanded. 

Now, probably what Leclerc should have done is put off any reorganization plan until winter, when the yellow fever had passed and he could properly assess what was actually left of his own strength. But this is hindsight talking, and when he got going with reorganization in June, he did not know that the yellow fever was going to be as bad as it was. Nor did he know that news from France and Guadeloupe and Martinique was going to fatally undermine his authority over the black and colored population. 

Back in France on May 20, 1802, First Consul Bonaparte, who was about to become First Consul for life Bonaparte, by the by, induced his compliant tribune to repeal one of the most revolutionary decrees of the French Revolution, the Law of February 4, 1794, which outlawed slavery everywhere in the French empire. This great law was now null and void. But this was just the de jure confirmation of what had already become de facto consulate policy. Bonaparte had already made it clear in Article 91 of the Constitution that the colonies would be governed by special laws, and he had, in fact, already applied this mentality to the slavery issue. A French colony way off in the Indian Ocean had successfully resisted emancipation. And when Bonaparte came to power, he said, that’s fine, you can keep your slaves. I have no problem with that. Well, now that the Law of February 4 had been repealed, he made this even more explicit by saying that slavery could continue in any French colony where it had not yet been abolished. In the Caribbean, this specifically meant Martinique. 

Now, we haven’t talked about this because we’ve had plenty to talk about, but Martinique had been captured by the British in 1794, and so emancipation had never come to the island. But the recent Treaty of Amiens stipulated that the British would now hand the colony back to France. And so the slaves of Martinique, who had never been freed, would now never be freed. Bonaparte followed this up with an order allowing France and allied merchants to once again partake of the slave trade. And then he followed this up with a law in July 1802, that forbade any black or colored from entering the Metropole, that is all of France, without explicit permission. Bonaparte is turning the clock now back to, like, the 1760s. 

But what would prove even more troubling than the unbroken continuation of slavery in Martinique or the racist laws being passed back in France, were events in nearby Guadeloupe, where emancipation had gone into effect. As a side project, the massive Leclerc Expedition. Bonaparte had sent a smaller force to Guadeloupe to ensure the metropolitan authority there. And since there were not as many slaves, nor had Guadeloupe been racked by revolt on the scale of Saint Domingue, the commander of the expedition had orders to reimpose slavery in all but name. And this is beyond even Toussaint Louverture’s Orwellian ‘freedom is slavery’. The commander stripped free blacks of all civil rights, denied them the right to move around, and canceled all wages or profit sharing that may have been implemented since 1794. And this actually did spark a violent rebellion on the island, one that ended dramatically with cornered rebels holed up on a plantation, blowing themselves up rather than accepting re-enslavement. 

But for our purposes here, the important thing was that at an early stage of this fight, the French arrested and deported 1200 black foremen from Guadeloupe. And at some point in July 1802, French naval vessels holding many of these prisoners paid a call to Le Cap. And while bobbing in the harbor, a number of the captured Guadeloupe foremen managed to escape. When they told their story to the locals in Saint Domingue, word spread through the colony faster than fire through a cane field. Guadeloupe was being re-enslaved. And we are next. 

This chilling news led blacks all over the colony to resist anything Leclerc and his officers were trying to do, which really ticked off Leclerc. On August 6, he sent an angry letter to the First Consul, which said, “I asked you, Citizen Consul, to do nothing that might make the blacks fear for their freedom until I was ready and I was making rapid progress towards that moment. All of a sudden, there arrived the decree that legalizes the colonial slave trade, along with letters from merchants in Nantes and Le Havre asking if they can sell blacks here. Worse still, the general in command of Guadeloupe has just issued an order reestablishing slavery.” 

With the situation now more dangerous than ever, Leclerc asked him this letter and almost all of his subsequent letters, to be relieved of his command requests that would never be granted. 

So though all the senior black and colored military officers and all the soldiers under their command had submitted to French authority, that did not mean that everyone under arms had submitted. As I mentioned back in Episode 4.9, there were all over Saint Domingue independent, unaligned communities of blacks who rejected slavery, the labor codes, plantation work, military service, everything. These communities had not reconciled themselves to André Rigaud or Toussaint Louverture when they had been in charge, and they sure as hell were not going to reconcile themselves to Leclerc. So after the regular army defected the French, these communities continued to wage guerrilla campaigns from their mountain bases of the interior. And these guys were everywhere in the north, the west, and the south provinces. These communities fought a lonely campaign for independence until the word from Guadeloupe, at which point they became the fighting guerrilla wing of a much larger but massively decentralized resistance movement. 

Down in the South Province, especially, black workers in both the cities and the fields started to organize. Their leaders were not grand admirals or governors general, but butchers and fishermen, random foreman and cultivators, certainly as many women as men. The old leadership may have abandoned them, but they were determined to die before returning to slavery. Now, resistance could be as low level as the old slave strategies of work slowdown, sabotage and theft. But in both Jérémie and Les Cayes, out on the edge of the southern peninsula, coordinated efforts aimed at assassination, destruction of property, and probably more soon developed. But the French authorities were on the lookout, and these nascent conspiracies were uncovered and their leaders executed or deported. Except that is now not enough to get the job done, because their places were simply taken by a new cohort of resistance leaders. The summer of 1802 soon turned into one of those classic occupation dynamics, where the French had to continually up their level of repression, which only sparked even greater and wider determination to resist. The woman who today might not want to get involved would tomorrow start plotting to split your throat after you summarily arrest and execute her son on some flimsy pretext. 

On August 25, Leclerc wrote back to Bonaparte, acknowledging the problem. Now, Bonaparte had been pressing him to arrest the black officers and deport them. But Leclerc said, “It seems to me that you do not have a very clear idea of my position to judge from the orders you send me. You order me to send the black generals to Europe. It is quite simple to arrest them all on the same day. But I am using these generals to stop the revolts that are still breaking out and in some districts are taking on an alarming appearance. It is not enough to have deported Toussaint. There are 2000 leaders here who need deporting.” And frankly, every day there were 2000 more. 

With resistance brewing, fallout from the military reorganization started to become a major problem. Through July and August, discharged soldiers started merging with the guerrilla bands and the civilian resistance, bringing with them arms, supplies, to say nothing of their military experience and training. And then a principal object of the resistance became getting soldiers still in service to desert their posts and come over to the rebels. And they did. Every day they did. Sometimes it was just one soldier walking away from his post or maybe a small group leaving together. Other times, it would be whole units deserting together. They’d go out on patrol and just never come back. Or even scarier for the white soldiers, blacks would suddenly turn on them in the middle of a fight. They’d all be fighting some guerrilla band together, and suddenly the black soldiers would turn and start firing on the whites, who had minutes before been their quote unquote “comrades”. 

Meanwhile, the senior black and colored officers had grown thoroughly disenchanted with the French. Word that they were now barred from the Metropole, that coloreds were forbidden to use the title ‘citizen’, that the slave trade had been reactivated. It all spelled their inevitable doom. In August, one of Toussaint’s most loyal generals, a guy named Charles Belair, officially Toussaint’s nephew, but possibly his illegitimate son, had already turned and along with his wife Sanite, was secretly coordinating and aiding the rebels of the West Province from his position as a general in the French army. Shortly thereafter, though, he took to the mountains and declared himself an insurrection. But the other generals were not ready to go that far just yet, and General Dessalines took the lead in tracking down the rebellious Belair and Sanite. 

With the colony slipping out of his control, Leclerc’s letters back to Bonaparte showed the general slowly descending into a fog of despair, paranoia, and anger. These letters had two constant refrains: you have to send me more troops and you have to send me home. Perhaps thinking it unseemly for a man to beg for reinforcements while also begging to leave, Bonaparte continued to send more men, but not approve Leclerc’s request to be relieved of his command. 

Between July and October 1802, the First Consul would send 10,000 more men. But with the depressing reports about yellow fever in hand, the First Consul was no longer willing to send his best men and instead started using brigades of foreign auxiliaries from countries now under French domination, mostly Swiss and Germans, but most famously Polish battalions, because you can’t do early modern revolutionary history without the Poles showing up somewhere. So the first Polish legion of 2500 arrived in early September 1802, after being told that the French were carrying on the struggle for freedom and equality in the New World. But then on arrival, the Poles discovered that this had all been a lie and that clearly the French were fighting to impose slavery, not abolish it. After suffering from a heavy dose of disillusionment combined with yellow fever and death in combat conditions they were not prepared for, the Poles would famously start to defect to the ranks of the blacks, who, it was obvious, were the ones actually fighting for freedom and equality. 

And it was just before the Poles arrived in early September that we get our first piece of really hard evidence that the French were actually fighting for re-enslavement. At the end of August, Leclerc responded to a coded message from the head of the Naval Ministry by saying, quote, “Do not think of reestablishing slavery here for some time. I think I will be able to do everything so that the person who replaces me will have nothing to do but put into effect the government order. But after the innumerable proclamations that I have issued here assuring the blacks of their freedom, I do not want to have to contradict myself. Assure the First Consul, however, that my successor will find everything in place.” 

And from the context of this letter, it’s clear that the government order he referred to was slavery. 

But events were now moving very quickly and Leclerc’s mind was racing. No longer a cavalier idealist, Leclerc was now an aggressive paranoid. He refused to leave his residence in Le Cap and allowed almost no one to enter, hopefully quarantining himself from the plague that swirled all around him, seeing black and colored rebels everywhere, colonial soldiers deserting to the enemy, and his own men dying like flies. Leclerc’s promise to “have everything in place” was about to take very sinister overtones. Leclerc now believed that to impose French rule he had “nothing left but terror”, and so terror is what he ordered. 

Men and women captured under arms had always been executed. But by the end of summer, the killing became indiscriminate. At the end of August, 60 men were hanged in a single day in Le Cap. In early September, the prisons of Les Cayes were emptied with as many as 350 men and women killed in one mass execution. With plantations, foremen now identified as likely resistance ringleaders, it basically became a crime to be a foreman. And arrests and executions were quick and devoid of any legality. French units simply went out on patrol, rounded up anybody who might be a resistance member, which at this point was anyone, and hanged, shot or crucified them as a lesson to the others. But the only lesson the blacks seemed to learn was ‘we have to resist these French bastards at all costs’. 

But the guys who got the worst of it were the black and colored soldiers who remained loyal to the French. The men who had stayed behind when their comrades deserted were not rewarded for their loyalty, but punished for their imaginary future crimes, either because the French officers thought they would inevitably desert or believing that some had stayed behind on purpose to undermine the military from within. Arrests and executions of the men who refused to desert the French became a daily occurrence in September and October, which only, of course, increased the number of desertions. 

The black and colored officers, meanwhile, were all themselves on the verge of deserting. Dessalines, by this point, was no longer destroying the weapons he was seizing. He was stockpiling them for later, or oftentimes, just making a show of disarming civilians and then sending their guns back as soon as the white officers weren’t looking. But it was not just the black generals like Dessalines. Alexandre Pétion, who had come over with the expedition and fought valiantly at the vicious siege of Crête-à-Pierrot in April, was now ready to bolt. Leclerc’s turn to terror, coupled with the news that he was banned from returning to France because of the color of his skin, left Pétion ready to switch sides as soon as it would have the most impact. But there was still some internal maneuvering to contend with. And so while Dessalines, for example, prepared to make his own break, he continued to hunt General Belair and his wife Sanite. Eventually he tracked them down, had them arrested, and then forwarded them on to the French for execution in early October. Belair had often been talked about as the man who might one day succeed Toussaint Louverture as governor. And Dessalines took the opportunity to eliminate a strong rival from the equation before the war of independence got going in earnest. 

In mid-October, though, the time had come for everyone to bolt. The yellow fever epidemic was finally starting to slack. The white forces were now at their weakest and from here on out would only get stronger. General Pétion and another guy named General Clairvaux, who had been one of Toussaint’s top colored officers, had been put in charge of Le Cap’s outer defenses. Specifically, the fortifications were once Sonthonax and Polverel had fallen back to at the battle of Le Cap. There, they made contact with the same guy that Sonthonax and Polverel had made contact with: Macaya. Macaya was still out there running the rebels of the North Plain. Pétion and Leclerc and Macaya put together a plan for a joint assault on Le Cap. 

This mixed force of regular army and Macaya’s gorillas struck on October 13. And before the Frenchmen manning Le Cap’s inner line knew what was happening, a horde of black and colored soldiers were upon them. This attack finally brought Leclerc out of hiding, and he personally rushed to the walls to lead the defense. In all likelihood, he probably did not think he was going to make it out of this alive, but Leclerc and his men somehow held the line. And when morning dawned, Le Cap had not fallen. But though this attack failed, it was the signal that it was time for everyone to pick sides once and for all. Christophe defected on October 16 and attacked Port-de-Paix. Dessalines, who probably knew what Pétion was about to do, turned on his superiors and on October 24, attacked Gonaïves. And with the atrocities committed by the whites, you can bet that no quarter was offered to anyone who fell into the hands of the rebels. 

The generals made their move not a moment too soon, because by this point, Leclerc had snapped completely. On October 7, just days before Pétion’s attack on Le Cap, Leclerc wrote what turned out to be his last letter to Bonaparte, and in it he said, “Here is my opinion of this country. You must destroy all the blacks of the mountains, men and women, and keep only children under twelve years old, destroy half those of the plain, and not leave in the colony a single man of color who has worn an epaulet. Otherwise the colony will never be quiet. And at the beginning of each year, especially after murderous seasons like this one, you will have a civil war that will comprise the possession of the country. If you wish to be the master of Saint Domingue, you must send me 12,000 men without wasting a single day.” 

Seeing nothing but an island of men and women who would never accept French rule, Leclerc was now advocating a program of nothing less than genocide. Basically, his plan was to wipe out the entire population of Saint Domingue so that they could start over with new slaves from Africa. And it would appear that Leclerc was not joking. After the attack on Le Cap, he issued a general arrest order for every black and colored soldier still under French authority. The thousand or so black men of the Le Cap garrison, unfortunate enough to have remained loyal to the French, were rounded up and marched on to ships waiting in the harbor. On Leclerc’s orders, sacks of flour were tied around their necks and they were unceremoniously pushed overboard. In a single day, these thousand men were drowned one by one in the Le Cap harbor, their bodies washing ashore over the course of the next week. And as had happened in the Vendée, mass drowning soon became the quickest and most cost effective method of execution. And one white officer who was sickened by the slaughter estimated that something like 4000 men and women were drowned across the colony over October and November 1802. This would mark the beginning of a cycle of horrific atrocities and counter atrocities committed by both sides in the War of Independence that can now be said to have officially begun with the defection of the generals in October. 

But though Leclerc said it in motion, he would not live long enough to do anything but set it in motion. Very possibly as a result of the contact he had had with the troops during the battle to defend Le Cap, General Leclerc came down with a fever on October 22. He hung out in okay shape for a few days, but on October 29, he collapsed and was stricken with the very worst that yellow fever has to offer, which I’ll spare you the very gross details of. On November 2, 1802, almost exactly a year after marrying into the Bonaparte family and being put in charge of this all important mission, Leclerc died at the age of 30. 

But as I just said, Leclerc’s death was an end to nothing but his own life. Next week, the War of Independence will be waged in brutal earnest as both sides sought to terrorize and murder the other into submission. General Dessalines will merge as the commander in chief of the Creole rebels and with him would come the final death of Toussaint Louverture’s dream for tricolor harmony. There could be no peace, no liberty, no independence for the blacks and colors of Saint Domingue if even a single white was left alive.

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